Although best known for his longer serious plays, Chekhov also wrote a number of short farces, which include the one-act A Marriage Proposal. During Chekhov's time, farces were very popular, and he wrote several works in this genre.
A Marriage Proposal is about the tendency of wealthy families to seek other wealthy families, to increase their estates by encouraging marriages that made good economic sense, and the problems that arise in marriage. In the play, Ivan Vassilevich Lomov, long time wealthy neighbor of Stepan Stepanovich Chubukov, also wealthy, has come to seek marriage of Chubukov's twenty-five year-old daughter, Natalia Stepanovna. After asking and receiving permission to marry Natalia, she is invited into the room and he tries to get across the proposal. He fails. Lomov is a hypochondriac and whilst trying to make clear his reasons for being there he gets into arguments with Natalia and ends up having "palpitations" and a dead leg. After her father notices they are arguing he joins in and then sends him out of his house. He then lets slip to her that he was about to propose and she immediately starts "dying" and screams for her father to get him back. He does and they get into their second big argument about the dogs. Ivan then collapses and they all fear him dead. Then after a few minutes he regains consciousness and Chubukov all but forces them to get married. The second after he forces them to kiss, they get into another argument. The play then ends.
In traditional Russia, marriage was a mean of economic stability for most people. They marry to gain wealth and possessions. In this particular play, the concept of marriage is being satirized to show the real purpose of marriage. Marriage is portrayed as a materialistic gain and not for the reason of true love. The satire is conveyed successfully by emphasizing the couple's foolish arguments over small things. The main arguments in the play revolve around "The Oxen Meadows" and two dogs called "Ugadi and Otkatai".